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Tigers ready to roar as soccer, football open home schedules

Senior forward Sofia Reed and the Towson women's soccer team will host DePaul in the home opener on Friday night.

Senior forward Sofia Reed and the Towson women’s soccer team will host DePaul in the home opener Friday night.

As the first week of school winds down, Tigertown is ready to roar in a couple of home openers that highlight a big weekend for Towson athletics.

Coming off a second-place finish at the JMU Invitational, the women’s soccer team hosts its home opener against undefeated DePaul (3-0) on Friday at 4 p.m. in the Tiger Soccer Complex.

Towson (1-0-1) is coming off a week’s rest from last weekend’s tournament. The Tigers started with a 1-1 tie against University of Massachusetts, before ending the weekend by defeating Xavier 2-0.

Head Coach Greg Paynter understands these early games are important as the team builds toward its main goal of winning the CAA championship.

“That starts in late September with our conference games, but we need to use our early non-conference games to prepare us for that challenge,” Paynter said, of his team’s championship aspirations.

“For us to be successful and to achieve our goals, we’ll need both our returners and our newcomers to step up and contribute right away and throughout the season.”

Saturday also brings the return of Towson football, which kicks off its 2014 campaign by hosting Central Connecticut at 6 p.m. in Unitas Stadium. The game has been declared a “Gold Rush,” and the team is asking fans to wear their gold Towson apparel.

The Tigers are coming off the best finish in school history, after reaching the NCAA FCS Championship Game last season. Their runner-up finish — and a No. 7 ranking in the FCS coaches’ poll — has the team under pressure. But Head Coach Rob Ambrose understands a new year brings new challenges.

“As good as last season was for our program, last year is not the focus,” Ambrose said. “We remember where we came from, we know where we want to get back to, and we know what it takes.”

The Tigers return only 10 starters and, according to the depth chart, are only going to start just four seniors. They must also replace Towson’s all-time leading rusher Terrance West and an offensive line that lost a majority of experience, with Sam Evans the only lineman returning who started double-digit games last season.

After last season’s success, Ambrose said this team is going to have to find its stride and not worry about last season.

“There won’t be a lot of conversation about Towson being the No. 2 team in the country anymore,” Ambrose added. “This is a new year with a new team and a new focus.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m., with video available at towsontigers.com. The game can also be found on the radio at CBS Sports Radio 1300.

Volleyball will also open its season this weekend, competing in the Bryant University Hampton Inn-vitational. The Tigers will take on UMass-Lowell on Friday, and face Army and Bryant on Saturday. The game against Bryant will be broadcast online at towsontigers.com.

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